DVDs are big business. According to Adams Media Research, consumers spent $16.6 billion in 2004 buying them—$7+ billion more than they spent on either theater tickets or movie rentals last year.
It’s no wonder studios are upping the ante and incorporating innovative materials, special effect inks and unique structures to create DVD packaging that stands out on the retail shelf.
“As space becomes more of a premium in the big box retailers for this category, we are seeing more and more creative approaches,” says Ralph Tribbey, editor of DVD Release Report/Home Media Retailing.
And while Tribbey says DVD sales tend to be title-driven for most consumers, he also says that with some 45,000 DVD titles to choose from, consumers of a certain mindset can be charmed with the perceived value of creative and premium DVD packaging.
“Fans, film buffs and collectors will respond to that,” he says. “If you have a lot of similar-type products competing for eye balls in the retail environment, then DVD packaging can be a significant factor.”
Consider the following releases, which are solid examples of media packaging that begs to be held, handled and, ultimately, sold.
If you took the 20th anniversary two-disc “Scarface” DVD gift set in hand, you’d be hard-pressed to guess that it’s covered in anything but leather. But it’s not. Modeled to look like a gangster’s cigar box, the gift set, created by Shorewood Packaging, is swathed in FiberMark’s Pellaq by Skivertex covering material, a high-gloss simulated leather with crocodile embossing that you’d swear was the real thing.
Material selection can be hugely important in DVD packaging design. In this case, the embossed covering offers tactile appeal and gives the DVD set a masculine appearance that reinforces the movie’s rugged theme.
Even the process of handling the package can bolster that position. The gift box opens to reveal a red satin-like lining that holds the two-disc anniversary edition of the movie. And a false bottom reveals a secret compartment with a DVD of the original 1932 version of the film.
Inks are hot
Though thermochromic inks have been around for some time (remember hypercolor t-shirts in the 80s?), they’ve only recently made headway in packaging—perhaps most prominently with Nirvana’s recent “With the Lights Out” CD/DVD box set, which is coated with black heat-sensitive ink developed by Chromatic Technologies.
On this DVD package, released by Universal Music in late 2004, the specialty ink was designed to disappear when rubbed with a finger or hand, exposing images and lists of venues where the Seattle-based band first played. It’s a dramatic reveal effect that encourages interactivity and reinforces the theme of the title (“lights out”).
To achieve the appropriate effect, the ink had to be screen-printed on an acrylic-coated material (FiberMark’s Hyflex) that was substantial enough to accept a heavy laydown of ink.
“We needed to apply a thick film of ink to get the opacity, which took some adjustment,” says CTI vice president of sales and marketing Glenn Small. “But it was a very simple project—essentially it’s what we do every day.”
Full metal jackets
When Geneon Entertainment’s sci-fi anime movie “Appleseed” hit the street on May 10th, the deluxe and limited editions ($49.98 and $29.98 respectively) were offered in a premium metal case that made its North American packaging debut.
According to Scanavo, the Danish marketer of this “steelbook” case, the metal package trumps traditional plastic Amaray cases in the way it feels in the hand and the substantial sound and sensation it creates when opened—key influencers in consumer purchasing decisions.
The case itself also offers premium cues. It consists of a pressed aluminum exterior, printed with graphics on both sides, and an inner core of translucent plastic that reveals the images inked on the metal. The packaging also features a patented overlap tray that allows the two Appleseed discs to be visible at the same time.
Scanavo says the premium packaging can also motivate retailers to give a title better store position, especially because the dimensions match those of standard DVDs. And, unlike other specialty packaging, steelbook runs on existing fulfillment lines.
It’s the motion…
If you were launching a DVD for a blockbuster like “Spiderman 2”, you’d want to package it in a case with as much action as the movie itself.
That’s likely why studio executives chose the Burgopak for the promotional front end of this Spiderman DVD release. The high-end sliding box format, which holds a worldwide patent, works with a simple pull on a tab that causes two disc trays to appear from each end of the case (a belt-driven mechanism powers the trays).
It’s not just the unique physical qualities of the case that offer consumer appeal. Graphics play a role too. According to Charles Bluett, world group manager director for Burgopak, the sliding disc format leverages the idea of motion into the graphic elements of the piece. When both trays of the DVD packaging are extended, they reveal a graphic panoramic scene that, Bluett says, makes it appear as if Spiderman is in motion.
“It’s a wow factor that is not seen much in DVDs,” he says. “There’s a huge perceived added value that is part of the product, and a perceived collectability for the piece.”
But because the high-end packaging solution includes a hand-built element in production, the system is best limited to small batch runs. That’s why, for now, Bluett says the system is best used in limited-edition or promotional packaging that, like Spiderman 2, looks to make a significant first impression.
“It sets you apart in terms of quality,” he says. “And it comes across in a much classier way.” BP
The author, Pauline Tingas, is the Senior Editor of BRANDPACKAGING.